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Personal Statements for the IMG
Your personal statement will let residency committee members and program directors know your reasons and qualifications for pursuing a specialty. This is your chance to explain how you came to love pediatrics or surgery, and why you can’t live without it. You also want to show that you will THRIVE in the US and how you are well trained to practice and learn as a resident in a US hospital.
Your job is NOT to explain why you became attracted to the field of medicine in general or to say that you love helping people. You need to really “sell” your best qualities to the residency committees so they will feel the need to interview you.
This task is often the most difficult job of the IMG since English may not be your first language. No matter what you do, make sure you have a few people read thru your essay for basic grammar and spelling errors. Do not be sloppy. Program directors will notice errors and wonder how your daily progress notes in patient charts will be if an essay which you had numerous hours to prepare is riddled with errors.
What Format Should My Essay Be?
The essay is not intended to be a letter directed to the residency committee. We generally discourage addressing the reader in person during the letter. (“I really appreciate the time you have taken to review my application and I look forward to meeting you.”) This is not intended to be a letter. This is a statement you are making to show your intangible qualities. Your entire essay should be about one page in length. Do not make your essay too long. Residency committee members will spend less then 2 minutes reading your masterpiece and they WILL *sigh* in exhaustion when they see your essay is 2 pages long!
Your essay should include elements on why you want to pursue a specialty field, what drove you to this, why you’ll be good in that field, your experiences, your career goals, and any other relevant background material.
Do mention the reason why you have selected your specialty field
If you are a US Citizen who trained outside the US, then DO explain why you did not go to a US medical school. Talk about the adventures of training outside the US, the learning opportunities, etc… It is not impressive to say that you did not get accepted to med school in the US, so therefore in order to show your drive and desire to be a doctor you went to school anywhere you were accepted.
Also, be sure you highlight the fact (if it’s true in your case) that you completed your US rotations at the same US hospitals that US medical students are trained at.
There are a few essay patterns that you should definitely avoid. Here are some of the most common introductions that we read year after year…
“I have been fascinated with medicine since I was a young child following daddy around the village, taking care of sick people. I loved how people treated him with respect. As a baby I loved to read medical texts. When I was 12 I took the All-Home-Country medical exam and scored first out of 12 million people in my province. I gained entry to the Never Heard Of University in Home Country, the most esteemed and famous hospital in the land…”
“I first became interested in medicine when I had to see my grandmother suffer with diabetes. I helped her measure her blood glucose levels, and since then I wanted to become a doctor.”
“After medical school, I was required to spend 2 years in a village. I loved helping all the underserved and poor people, and even spent all my free time helping the villagers, teaching them how to clean their water.”
“My father was the most famous and respected doctor in all of Home Country. I wanted gain the respect of others and help people just like him.”
All of these may have happened to you, or may be true, but have no bearing on YOU, the residency applicant! You need to tell your program director why YOU will be the great resident, not how great your daddy is.
Tips for a Strong Essay: